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Automobile Technology- Set to Change the Face of Liability Litigation

Automobile Technology- Set to Change the Face of Liability Litigation

Google recently announced its first truly driverless vehicle.  Google’s vehicle allows an individual to “drive” a car while never touching the steering wheel.  It is completely autonomous.  It is sure to be the first of many autonomous vehicles to soon be offered to the public.  This evolution in the automobile industry is set to change the face of current automobile accident litigation. A simple car accident involving an autonomous vehicle can turn, what may have been a case of singular liability, into much more complicated litigation. Today, a driver may be liable for failing to stop in time to prevent an accident.  Tomorrow, the driver of an autonomous vehicle may be liable for failing to update vehicle software that would have made the car to stop in time to prevent an accident.

What does this mean for companies? It will likely mean an increase in product liability actions for car manufacturers. It will also likely change the types of liability insurance policies that drivers carry and insurance companies offer.  It could also develop into an opportunity for insurance companies to provide a new type of comprehensive insurance policy to car manufacturers. Although the law regarding autonomous vehicles remains to be written, one thing is for sure.  It will completely change the legal landscape for corporations such as insurance companies and car manufacturers as it pertains to accident liability litigation.

Margaret H. Loveman